Fir Trees of Virginia
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There are two varieties of Abies balsamea, one being typical of the species, var. balsamea, and the other being var. phanerolepis. For this article, we will discuss the species as a whole. 
A slow growing tree species, the oldest individual trees are typically not more than 200 years old.  Reaching 40 to 60 feet in height and 1 to 1.5 feet in diameter, a single trunk supports whorled branches.  The       ...more
Photo Gallery
Foliage of abies balsamea consists of many short needles
Abies balsamea seeds are light brown and have one large wing
Abies balsamea is native to only an isolated population in the north central part of Virginia
Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poiret
  Height: 45-55 ft
  Diameter: 1 ft
  Showy flower: no
  Fall colors: no-evergreen
  Drought tolerant: Low
  Annual rainfall: 45-100 inches
  Soil Needs: shallow, rocky
  Frost Free Days: 90
  Minimum Temperature (F): -23
  Growth Rate: moderate
  Shade tolerance: tolerant, stunted
  State List:
Fraser Fir, named after
Scotsman John Fraser,
has a moderate growth
rate, only hitting 20 feet tall
by age 20, and can live
between 100 to 150 years
of age.  It has a single
trunk which supports its
classic Christmas tree
pyramidal shape.  Needles
of Abies fraseri are deep
blueish green, flat and .8 to
1.5 inches long.  The root
system is shallow and
rarely reaches       ...more                                                                              
Photo Gallery
Seeds of Fraser fir are small, slightly triangular and have a single, brownish gray wing to aid in wind dispersal.
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Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.)
  Height: 40-60 ft
  Diameter: 1-1.5 ft
  Showy flower: no
  Fall colors: no-evergreen
  Drought tolerant: low
  Annual rainfall: 13-60
  Soil Needs: moist, rocky
  Frost Free Days: 80
  Minimum Temperature (F): -43
  Growth Rate: slow
  Longevity: 200 years
  State List: CT, IA, IN, MA, MD, ME
  MI, MN, NH, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, VT
  WI, WV           
The state distribution maps in the species info boxes below are from the USDA NRCS PLANTS Database at  In instances where state specific maps are unavailable, the US distribution map will be used in its place.  Also, the PLANTS Database website states "Our county data are based primarily on the literature, herbarium specimens,
and confirmed observations.  However, not all populations have been documented, so some gaps in the distribution shown above may not be real. Remember that only native and naturalized populations are mapped!"

Also included in the Pine family, Pinaceae, are the genera Larix (Larch), Picea (Spruce), Pinus (Pine), and Tsuga (Hemlock).
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Fir Trees, Abies and Pseudotsuga